With a constitution older than the 1987 Philippine Constitution, Ateneo de Davao University SAMAHAN is determined to pass an “updated” constitution that caters to the interest and needs of the student body.
After three readings by the SAMAHAN Constitutional Convention, the proposed SAMAHAN Constitution will be undergoing a plebiscite on October 12-14 for the ratification of said constitution.
“The political will of this current administration is commended; as one of its projects, it is also one of their priorities for this consti to be ratified,” SAMAHAN Department of Students’ Rights and Welfare chairperson and Constitutional Convention chairperson Jyp Phyllis Galan said.
The proposed constitution stipulates the official name and seal of the SAMAHAN, restructuring of the student government with three branches, constitutional commissions, recognition of organizations, a more detailed bill of rights and responsibilities of students, and clearer provisions regarding the elections among others.
SAMAHAN moderator for ten years Lunar Fayloga believes that the ratification of the proposed constitution will face three challenges: time and cyberspace, students’ apathy or priorities, and the perception of the constitution’s relevance.
“If the SAMAHAN constitution is a product, how do you make the students feel na kumbaga sa produkto ay, this is something relevant for me, this is something advantageous for me, because it would advance my interest?” he said, adding the “distance” cyberspace poses.
Meanwhile, Galan believes that the online set-up makes the voting for or against the proposed constitution easier.
“This time, maybe in the online context, we are all in our phones, we are all in our laptops. Maybe siguro, dili sila mahasolan ba mag-vote, dili sila mahasolan mag-pila pila, dili sila mahasol mag-vote like one click away lang, and vote if they approve or if they do not approve of the 2020 SAMAHAN constitutional draft,” he said.
For the proposed constitution to be ratified, 60 percent of the student population must vote, and 50 percent plus one of them must vote for said proposal.
To encourage the students to vote during the plebiscite, a copy of the constitution draft was made more accessible disseminated via email, and a summarized version of the updates enclosed in the new constitution were posted in social media and SAMAHAN website.
“Siguro sa plebiscite, with these kind of resources and political will, it may be possible for this constitution to be ratified,” Galan said.
Whether the new constitution be ratified or not, both Galan and Sir Fayloga encouraged succeeding Samahan government officers to “keep the momentum going.”
“If dili sya ma-ratify, it will be a basis for another attempt. For the next administration; for the next SCB, they will, again, have an attempt to edit the 1982 constitution, and they will learn from us, they will learn from what went wrong in the 2020 SAMAHAN constitution attempt,” Galan said.
A public forum on the proposed 2020 Samahan constitution transpired earlier at 3:30 PM via Zoom to inform the students and cater their concerns regarding the proposed constitution.